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Anorexia: When Thin Hurts

Sep 5, 2008
Sarah didn't think much about it when her daughter first started complaining about her hips.  After all, Abby got them from her. Abby also thought it was normal for a young woman to be concerned about her image. Wasn't she also concerned about her image when she was her daughter's age? It wasn't long before Sarah started to notice changes in Abby's behavior that worried her.  She looked thinner, and she started avoiding family meals and exercising a lot.  Why was her daughter changing? Was it normal adolescent angst or something more? Most important, Abby didn't know how she could help or to talk to...

Anorexia Nervosa Disorder is an eating disorder where someone refuses to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height, especially less than 85% of a normal weight.  The primary symptoms is that the person seems to be overly concerned about their weight and exercise level.  There is a distorted perspective of one's body weight or shape.  No matter how thin she may be, she can only see a fat person in the mirror. Of course none of these symptoms are ever communicated directly to other, yet if one pries deeper the allusions are obvious.

Even though he or she may not each much, the person with anorexia may constantly think about food, develop food rituals, keep a food diary, and lies about food and their intake.  He or she may try to hide their thinness by wearing baggy clothes or not allowing anyone to see them undress. Secrecy is the norm by which anorexics function. This is the hardest part about identifying anorexia in a person. Usually friends and family will only notice something is wrong after the condition is already physically apparent and even after that it usually takes severe weight loss to signal a problem. This can lead to severe damage and even death as in most cases acute anorexia nervosa lends itself to the sufferer needing a feeding tube and hospitalization. Even after the hospital stay is over, most anorexics still suffer from depression and food sensory distortion. This can be an intense time period causing to relapse fully into needing further hospitalization.

Those suffering from anorexia nervosa will lose weight, may abuse laxatives, diuretics or diet pills, and exercise excessively - sometimes for hours a day.  Young women will stop menstruating and may develop thicker hair on their arms and legs, as a evolutionary throwback to stay warm. Other physical symptoms include:

*  Dizziness or fainting
*  Brittle nails
*  Hair that thins, breaks or falls out
*  Dry skin
*  Intolerance of cold
*  Irregular heart rhythms
*  Low blood pressure
*  Dehydration 

Because approximately ten-percent of known diagnosed cases of the disorder eventually die of related causes and complications, including suicide, getting professional help is critical.  Treatment for anorexia generally includes therapy and nutritional counseling. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required. The most successful cases are those that are caught earlier, but this requires knowledge on the part of parents and friends, as well as acknowledgment of the true reason behind their loved one's suffering.
About the Author
Andrew Beckers writes about subjects important to humanity. Learn more about Anorexia Symptoms
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